Stunning scene to be found just off Colorado mountain pass

The Waterdog Lakes trail is a great day hike for summer. Photo Credit: Breanna Sneeringer, OutThere Colorado

Colorado’s alpine lakes are hard to forget. Track down this trail for two-for-one alpine lakes.

Tucked away deep in the wilderness off of Monarch Pass are the Waterdog Lakes. A fairly steep and rocky trek to the natural wonder climbs through magnificent mountain scenery. Rushing alpine waters trickle down across parts of the wildflower-lined trail. The crystal blue waters of the lakes are surrounded by lush alpine forests and backed by snow-capped peaks. It’s a breathtaking adventure – and the lakes are not too far from the mountain towns of Salida and Buena Vista, either.

Stunning scene to be found just off Colorado mountain pass

Wildflowers can be seen from April to August, depending on weather conditions. Waterdog Lakes Trail is a beautiful trek to see colorful spring blooms. Photo Credit: Breanna Sneeringer, OutThere Colorado

The trail to the Waterdog Lakes features two alpine lakes that are great for fishing. The upper lake holds brook trout, also known as the “brookie,” which are brightly colored fish with red and white spots covering across their dark olive-green bodies. This species is native to Canada and the Eastern United States.

Editor’s Note: If you do plan to visit, please practice Leave No Trace. Pack out whatever you pack in and be respectful of the trail rules. If there’s mud, walk through it, not around it. This helps avoid causing erosion. If there’s a lot of mud, avoid using the trail entirely. Extreme caution is also advised when crossing the highway to the trailhead. If you’re considering fishing at this destination, please follow all current rules, restrictions, and bans.

Waterdogs Lakes Trail

Trip log: 4 miles round trip to the lakes (out and back), 1,275 feet of elevation gain

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: To get there, travel along Highway 50 via Monarch Pass for about 13.5 miles. Once you pass the Monarch Mountain Lodge, you’ll want to continue on for 2.75 miles. Be on the lookout for a small dirt pullout along the left edge of the highway. Parking is available here. The trail to Waterdogs Lakes is located across the highway. Peeping through the trees, you’ll see a trailhead sign. If you reach Monarch Mountain, you’ve gone a little too far.

Stunning scene to be found just off Colorado mountain pass

Waterdog Lakes Trail. Photo Credit: Breanna Sneeringer, OutThere Colorado

FYI: Dogs are allowed on leash. Arrive early, as parking fills. Bug repellent is also recommended for mosquitoes

Editor’s Note: If you do plan to visit, please practice Leave No Trace. Pack out whatever you pack in and be respectful of the trail rules. If there’s mud, walk through it, not around it. This helps avoid causing erosion. If there’s a lot of mud, avoid using the trail entirely. Extreme caution is also advised when crossing the highway to the trailhead. If you’re considering fishing at this destination, please follow all current rules, restrictions, and bans.

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